Website Matches Philanthropists With Community Projects
Community Bonds through Chickens
On a sweaty April afternoon, a group of neighbors attempted to remove heaps of trash and knee-high weeds from an abandoned lot in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. The lot will provide fresh food for the community in less than two months.
The area is 1 of the 10 vacant lots that Pollos del Pueblo—“The People’s Chickens”—are transforming into community gardens. The project hopes to tackle the neighborhood’s dearth of fresh food.
The East New York neighborhood is a “food desert,” said IOBY. Less than 25 percent of its food retailers offer fresh food. The community is forced to decide between traveling nearly two miles for fresh food or grabbing fast food.
“We don’t have access to fresh food in the supermarket,” said Mercedes Sandoz, one of the community garden activists. “I have lived here for 26 years.”
Around 30 percent of East New York adults are obese, compared to a 20 percent citywide obesity rate.
Yanet Rojas, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years, hopes the garden will help children develop healthy eating habits via easier access to fresh food. “It’s for the next generation, for our children,” Rojas said.
“The idea [of the community garden] is to enable the community to take health and nutrition into their own hands,” IOBY said.
Pollos del Pueblo is led by the local community activists, working with The People’s Food Project and Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.
The soon-to-come chickens are decidedly the most exciting aspect of the project.
“We are counting eggs but we don’t have the chickens yet,” Rojas said. The chickens will provide natural fertilizer, along with affordable, organic eggs.
The volunteers will conduct chicken care workshops, along with developing a distribution model for eggs produced in their gardens.
“You always have a few chicken haters in every community … but the overall group is excited,” said Erin Barnes, co-founder of IOBY.
A group of elementary children were